The Washington Times - March 7, 2013, 03:35PM

The Obama administration has dispatched an official delegation to Caracas to attend Friday’s funeral for deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In addition to James Derham, who presently serves as Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in the Venezuelan capital, the State Department said Thursday that the delegation to the socialist revolutionary’s funeral will include U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, New York Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, Massachusetts Democrat.


Details were not forthcoming about why Mr. Meeks and Mr. Delahunt were chosen to represent the U.S. at the funeral.

However, Mr. Delahunt, who served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee while in Congress from 1997 through 2011, has a history of quietly attempting to forge positive diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.

During the early 2000s, he partook in a little reported effort known in foreign policy circles as the “Groupo De Boston,” which brought U.S. members of Congress to meet socially with Venezuelan lawmakers in Caracas. Subsequently, the effort saw several Venezuelan lawmakers arrive on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, to partake in more social meetings.

Mr. Delahunt also met personally with Mr. Chavez in 2005 to help arrange a program that would eventually see the Chavez government supply subsidized heating oil to thousands of low-income and elderly residents in Massachusetts — a state known for its left-leaning politics.